Once the word vintage referred to a time only dimly remembered by one's grandparents, a time before electricity, indoor plumbing and motorcars. Now it not only refers to my own childhood but more alarmingly now includes the 1980s and one day, sooner than you think, it will refer to now.
I was born in 1965 when life was very different. We were still using old money and everything was Better. Except there was no internet. Or cheap wine. Women were paid less than men, racist jokes were considered ok, and it was illegal to be gay. So not really better at all. There was colour though, lots of strong colour, and girls were allowed colours that weren't pink or purple or sprinkled with glitter. Girls' clothes and toys were multi-coloured, bright and bold.
Red and black are the colours I remember best from my childhood. Red and black in the form of everyone's favourite beetle the ladybird.
There were the books of course. Four and half inches by seven, costing 2/6 with their brightly coloured spines and backs and colourful illustrated covers Ladybird books were familiar companions to the nation's children throughout the 60s and 70s.
For those of you wishing to wallow in nostalgia I heartily recommend this book . Absolutely packed with fabulous colourful illustrations from ladybird books.
Childhood in the 60s and 70s certainly wasn't drab.
There was another Ladybird in my childhood. Ladybird clothes. We had a Ladybird shop on our high street (a high street, incidentally, exactly like the one in Shopping With Mother) from which my mum would buy clothes for my brother and myself.
All my underwear came from the Ladybird shop; white pants and vests* with the embroidered Ladybird label in them with its loopy L. You needed nice underwear if you were aged between 4 and 7 in the early 70s because you had to do PE and music and movement lessons in your vest and pants.We also got lacy white knee socks and coloured tights from there. My mum was very keen on coloured tights for little girls.
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When I was in the reception year at school mum often sent me to school in an outfit bought from the Ladybird shop which consisted of black tights, a black polo neck jumper and a red tunic. My teacher, Miss Jeans, used to say that if only I had black spots on the back of my tunic I would look just like a ladybird. Then one day the school had a fancy dress competition and my mum knew exactly what I should go as.
She sewed a little black cap, which buttoned up under the chin and covered my hair and ears. She attached black pipe-cleaner antennae on the top, she embroidered a bold black line down the back of my red tunic and appliquéed big black spots on either side of the line. With my black tights and jumper I was a perfect ladybird. Off I went to the fancy dress competition and won first prize. It may well have been my mum's proudest moment as a mother, if only there had been such a thing as the internet and blogging in 1970 what a great blogpost the ladybird costume would have made. Never mind, I am blogging it now but I do wish we had a photo. Suffice to say I looked pretty damn cute in my red and black.
*Translations for North American readers
A vest is an undershirt I think. It's a sleeveless top worn as underwear particularly by children. What you call a vest we call a waistcoat.
A jumper is a sweater and a tunic is a jumper. A polo neck is a turtle neck.
Reception year is the first year of schooling for 4 and 5 year olds.
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